The Holocaust and its lasting damage were perpetrated by indoctrinating the most vulnerable.
- 1How does propaganda work and what makes it so effective?
Ask students to define propaganda as they understand it. Explore the similarities and differences between what each individual understands and then compare the class definition to the one provided by Echoes & Reflections: “False or partly false information intended to shape people’s opinion and action that fulfills the propagandist’s intent.”
Direct students to the resource “Heil Hitler!”: Lessons of Daily Life by Facing History and Ourselves. Have students read the excerpt from Erika Mann and prep their reading with the following prompts; encourage them to highlight or underline sections of the story that help answer these questions:
- Reflect on how the definition of propaganda is demonstrated in this story.
- What means were used to distribute the message in Nazi Germany?
- Why was it so effective?
Divide the class into groups of three to five. Ask the students to think about messages that they hear today.
First, as a group, they should write down as many messages as they can think of that they hear echoing in their world. These may come from advertisements, from their life in their town, from school, etc.
Then, ask them to consider whether the messages they hear or see are propaganda by answering the following questions:
- What is the intention behind these messages that you hear regularly?
- Do the messages you hear today fit the definition of propaganda?
- Do the messages you hear today seem to have a similar impact on you that the messages Erika Mann heard seemed to have on her and her peers?
- Do you think there is an opportunity for people to spread propaganda in today’s society?
- If so, how can we prevent being influenced by these messages?
Wisconsin Academic Standards
This lessons meets the following Academic Standards required by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.